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« Stephen Glover: Ghetto Britain and a brave, if surprising, voice | Main | Iain Duncan Smith and Rick Santorum: A Conservative Vision Of Social Justice »

Comments

malcolm

I find the comment that 'those in charge of Basra security have slept' extremely offensive.Have you any evidence for that at all?
Our troops have not 'slept' but with fewer than 5,000 troops to patrol &protect what is a large city they have had to rely on the locals militia for support.I posted on this subject a few weeks ago and told you exactly what was happening.I didn't just invent this,my information came from a number of soldiers serving in Iraq who have repeatedly told me that there will soon be a civil war .
What the small number of troops we have there are supposed to achieve to prevent this neither I, nor they, nor I suspect government ministers have any idea.
By the way,the idea that the local police and defence forces will be loyal to a central government against the wishes of their local leaders is a joke, as any British army officer involved in their training will tell you.

Editor

Malcolm - I didn't accuse the troops themselves of sleeping - they have been heroic - but there has been a clear failure of those "in charge" (which is what I wrote) to act against infiltration. That action appears now to be happening... albeit belatedly. I agree with you on the lack of adequate troop numbers. It is increasingly clear that the whole British Army is too small for the vital tasks it is being given.

malcolm

What do you suggest that Lorimer & the other officers 'in charge' of our toops in Basra,Amarah and the rest of the southern sector are supposed to do?

malcolm

Rather suprised that nobody else has contributed to this thread, even Bruce who normally defends the policy of Blair and Bush at every opportunity.If anyones interested there is a good piece in todays Times(Sept 23rd) by Anthony Loyd which details the situation currently in Basra.

Editor

Malcolm - the below text from ePolitix.com is Michael Howard's thoughts on what we've been discussing:

"HOWARD URGES IRAQ RETHINK

The post-war strategy being followed by allied troops in Iraq "doesn't seem to be working", Tory leader Michael Howard has said.

He suggested the international coalition must now fundamentally reassess its future in the country and its role in the path towards a democratic state.

The comments come after the authorities in Basra said they will not co-operate with British troops until they get an apology for a raid earlier this week to free two UK soldiers.

Basra governor Mohammed al-Waili also demanded compensation for damage caused by Monday's raid and a guarantee that it won't happen again.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Howard acknowledged he had supported the government's decision to commit British forces to the Iraq conflict.

But he said it was now clear that with the issue of insurgency and suicide bombing worsening there needs to be a "thorough and serious reappraisal".

"We are where we are, and the present strategy clearly doesn't seem to be working," he said.

He also set out what should be done to improve the situation on the ground.

"A real attempt must be made to deal with the armed militias which seem to be at the root of many of the difficulties we face," Howard said.

"It must be made clear that the law enforcement agencies in Iraq should be the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police, and they should be the people with the task of keeping law and order, supported by the coalition forces."

There also needs to be much tougher action to tackle the Mahdi Army which is loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, Howard said.

"These armed militias clearly are one of the most dangerous elements in a difficult situation which British forces are having to deal with every day, and it is becoming increasingly perilous for them."

Howard's statement on Iraq came as David Davis set out his own view on the issue.

In a speech to Chatham House on Friday, the shadow home secretary said there was "no point now in looking back".

Like Howard he stressed the insurgency was the biggest problem now faced by allied troops.

"The war against Saddam has been overtaken by a war against Sunni insurgents and al Qaeda, which is far more dangerous."

But he added: "This war too must be won, unless the Gulf is to descend into turmoil and the West be put at still greater risk.

"The allies must stay until we can leave behind a stable and free Iraq."

Howard, meanwhile, said that if troops were pulled out now "there is a very real danger that we would leave behind a country which would be a hotbed for international terrorism, a centre for international terrorism, which could well be a disaster for the world".

"I think that would be an irresponsible thing to do," he added.

"Any arbitrary timetable or arbitrary declarations I think could lead to very very serious and dangerous consequences.""

malcolm

These comments are very late from Michael Howard to put it mildly.More disappointing are DDs comments.Doesn't he yet understandthat that in addition to the sunni &al-queda insurgents our troops face a real threat from Shia militia who vastly outnumber them? 'The allies must stay until we can leave behind afree and stable Iraq' is easy to say but how does he think we will be able to impose this?

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